Helping Patients and Their Family Caregivers Cope With Cancer

family caregivers, cancer
ONF 2012, 39(5), 500-506. DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.500-506

Family caregivers face multiple demands as they care for their loved ones with cancer, and these demands have increased dramatically in recent years. Patients with cancer now receive toxic treatments in outpatient settings and return home to the care of their family members. Some patients receive in-home infusions, which were unheard of a few years ago. Family caregivers provide tasks that were previously provided by nurses; however, caregivers lack the educational preparation that nurses receive.

Jump to a section


    Beesley, V. L., Price, M. A., Webb, P. M., & Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group. (2011). Loss of lifestyle: Health behaviour and weight changes after becoming a caregiver of a family member diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer, 19, 1949-1956.
    Bevans, M., & Sternberg, E. (2012). Caregiving burden, stress, and health effects among family caregivers of adult cancer patients. JAMA, 307, 398-403. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.29
    Bishop, M. M., Beaumont, J. L., Hahn, E. A., Cella, D., Andrykowski, M. A., Brady, M. J., … Wingard, J. R. (2007). Late effects of cancer and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation on spouses or partners compared with survivors and survivor-matched controls. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25, 1403-1411. doi:10.1200/JCO.2006.07.5705
    Braun, M., Mikulincer, M., Rydall, A., Walsh, A., & Rodin, G. (2007). Hidden morbidity in cancer: Spouse caregivers. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25, 4829-4834. doi:10.1200/JCO.2006.10.0909
    Bultz, B. D., Speca, M., Brasher, P. M., Geggie, P. H., & Page, S. A. (2000). A randomized controlled trial of a brief psychoeducational support group for partners of early stage breast cancer patients. Psycho-Oncology, 9, 303-313.
    Campbell, L. C., Keefe, F. J., McKee, D. C., Edwards, C. L., Herman, S. H., Johnson, L. E., … Donattuci, C. F. (2004). Prostate cancer in African Americans: Relationship of patient and partner self-efficacy to quality of life. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 28, 433-444. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.02.020
    Cimprich, B. (1993). Development of an intervention to restore attention in cancer patients. Cancer Nursing, 16 (2), 83-92.
    Edwards, B., & Clarke, V. (2004). The psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis on families: The influence of family functioning and patients' illness characteristics on depression and anxiety. Psycho-Oncology, 13, 562-576. doi:10.1002/pon.773
    Edwards, B., & Clarke, V. (2005). The validity of the family relationship index as a screening tool for psychological risk in families of cancer patients. Psycho-Oncology, 14, 546-554. doi:10.1002/pon.876
    Giarelli, E., McCorkle, R., & Monturo, C. (2003). Caring for a spouse after prostate surgery: The preparedness needs of wives. Journal of Family Nursing, 9, 453-485. doi:10.1177/1074840703258317
    Hagedoorn, M., Sanderman, R., Bolks, H. N., Tuinstra, J., & Coyne, J. C. (2008). Distress in couples coping with cancer: A meta-analysis and critical review of role and gender effects. Psychological Bulletin, 134 (1), 1-30. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.134.1.1
    Harden, J., Falahee, M., Bickes, J., Schafenacker, A., Walker, J., Mood, D., & Northouse, L. (2009). Factors associated with prostate cancer patients' and their spouses' satisfaction with a family-based intervention. Cancer Nursing, 32, 482-492.
    Hodges, L. J., Humphris, G. M., & Macfarlane, G. (2005). A meta-analytic investigation of the relationship between the psychological distress of cancer patients and their carers. Social Science and Medicine, 60, 1-12. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.04.018
    Jensen, S., & Given, B. (1993). Fatigue affecting family cargivers of cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 1, 321-325.
    Keefe, F. J., Ahles, T. A., Porter, L. S., Sutton, L. M., McBride, C. M., Pope, M. S., … Baucom, D. H. (2003). The self-efficacy of family caregivers for helping cancer patients manage pain at end-of-life. Pain, 103, 157-162. doi:10.1016/S0304-3959(02)00448-7
    Kershaw, T., Mood, D. W., Newth, G., Ronis, D. L., Sanda, M. G., Vaishampayan, U., & Northouse, L. L. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of a model to predict quality of life in prostate cancer patients and their spouses. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 36, 117-128.
    Kim, Y., Schultz, R., & Carver, C. (2007). Benefit finding in the cancer caregiving experience. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 283-291. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3180417cf4
    Kurtz, M. E., Kurtz, J., Given, C., & Given, B. A. (2004). Depression and physical health among family caregivers of geriatric patients with cancer—A longitudinal view. Medical Science Monitor, 10 (8), CR447-CR456.
    Lau, D. T., Berman, R., Halpern, L., Pickard, A. S., Schrauf, R., & Witt, W. (2010). Exploring factors that influence informal caregiving in medication management for home hospice patients. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 13, 1085-1090. doi:10.1089/jpm.2010.0082
    Manne, S. L., Dougherty, J., Veach, S., & Kless, R. (1999). Hiding worries from one's spouse: Protective buffering among cancer patients and their spouses. Cancer Research Therapy and Control, 8, 175-188.
    Mellon, S., & Northouse, L. L. (2001). Family survivorship and quality of life following a cancer diagnosis. Research in Nursing and Health, 24, 446-459. doi:10.1002/nur.10004
    Mellon, S., Northouse, L. L., & Weiss, L. K. (2006). A population-based study of the quality of life of cancer survivors and their family caregivers. Cancer Nursing, 29, 120-131.
    Monin, J. K., Schultz, R., Martire, L. M., Jennings, J. R., Lingler, J. H., & Greenberg, M. S. (2010). Spouses' cardiovascular reactivity to their partners' suffering. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 65B (2), 195-201. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbp133
    Northouse, L., Kershaw, T., Mood, D., & Schafenacker, A. (2005). Effects of a family intervention on the quality of life of women with recurrent breast cancer and their family caregivers. Psycho-Oncology, 14, 478-491. doi:10.1002/pon.871
    Northouse, L. L. (1988). Social support in patients' and husbands' adjustment to breast cancer. Nursing Research, 37 (2), 91-95. doi:10.1097/00006199-198803000-00008
    Northouse, L. L., Katapodi, M. C., Song, L., Zhang, L., & Mood, D. (2010). Interventions with family caregivers of cancer patients: Meta-analysis of randomized trials. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 60, 317-339.
    Northouse, L. L., Mood, D., Kershaw, T., Schafenacker, A., Mellon, S., Walker, J., … Decker, V. (2002). Quality of life of women with recurrent breast cancer and their family members. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20, 4050-4064. doi:10.1200/JCO.2002.02.054
    Northouse, L. L., Mood, D., Schafenacker, A., Kalemkerian, G., Zalupski, M., LoRusso, P., … Kershaw, T. (2012). Randomized clinical trial of a brief and extensive dyadic intervention for advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers. Psycho-Oncology. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1002/pon.3036
    Northouse, L. L., Mood, D. W., Montie, J. E., Sandler, H. M., Forman, J. D., Hussain, M., … Kershaw, T. (2007). Living with prostate cancer: Patients' and spouses' psychosocial status and quality of life. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25, 4171-4177.
    Northouse, L. L., Mood, D. W., Schafenacker, A., Montie, J. E., Sandler, H. M., Forman, J. D., … Kershaw, T. (2007). Randomized clinical trial of a family intervention for prostate cancer patients and their spouses. Cancer, 110, 2809-2818. doi:10.1002/cncr.23114
    Northouse, L. L., Templin, T., & Mood, D. W. (2001). Couples' adjustment to breast disease during the first year following diagnosis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 24, 115-136. doi:10.1023/A:1010772913717
    Northouse, L. L., Walker, J., Schafenacker, A., Mood, D., Mellon, S., Galvin, E., … Freeman-Gibb, L. (2002). A family-based program of care for women with recurrent breast cancer and their family members. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29, 1411-1419.
    Rohleder, N., Marin, T. J., Ma, R., & Miller, G. E. (2009). Biologic cost of caring for a cancer patient: Dysregulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory signaling pathways. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 27, 2909-2915. doi:10.1200/JCO.2008.18.7435
    Roth, D. L., Perkins, M., Wadley, V. G., Temple, E. M., & Haley, W. E. (2009). Family caregiving and emotional strain: Associations with quality of life in a large national sample of middle-aged and older adults. Quality of Life Research, 18, 679-688.
    Scott, J. L., Halford, W. K., & Ward, B. G. (2004). United we stand? The effects of a couple-coping intervention on adjustment to early stage breast or gynecological cancer. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 1122-1135. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.72.6.1122
    Segrin, C., Badger, T., Dorros, S. M., Meek, P., & Lopez, A. M. (2007). Interdependent anxiety and psychological distress in women with breast cancer and their partners. Psycho-Oncology, 16, 634-643. doi:10.1002/pon.1111
    van Ryn, M., Sanders, S., Kahn, K., van Houtven, C., Griffin, J. M., Martin, M., … Rowland, J. (2011). Objective burden, resources, and other stressors among informal caregivers: A hidden quality issue? Psycho-Oncology, 20, 44-52. doi:10.1002/pon.1703
    Zhang, A. Y., & Siminoff, L. A. (2003). Silence and cancer: Why do families and patients fail to communicate? Health Communication, 15, 415-429. doi:10.1207/S15327027HC1504_03
    Zulman, D. M., Schafenacker, A., Barr, K. L., Moore, I. T., McCurdy, K., Derry, H., … Northouse, L. L. (2011). Adapting an in-person patient-caregiver communication intervention to a tailored Web-based format. Psycho-Oncology, 21, 336-341. doi:10.1002/pon.1900
    Zwahlen, D., Hagenbuch, N., Carley, M. I., Recklitis, C. J., & Buchi, S. (2008). Screening cancer patients' families with the distress thermometer (dt): A validation study. Psycho-Oncology, 17, 959-966. doi:10.1002/pon.1320